Rooftop antenna step towards PoMo radio

Matthew McBride plans to set up a radio station in Port Moody, a project that has been in the works for several years. - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Matthew McBride plans to set up a radio station in Port Moody, a project that has been in the works for several years.

Radio waves in the Tri-Cities may soon be buzzing with the sound of music, local news, traffic and weather with the approval this week of a radio antenna on top of a tower in Newport Village.

Tuesday, Port Moody council approved a height variance for the antenna, which will be placed on top of Sentinel tower at 290 Newport Dr.

Local broadcaster Matthew McBride has been approved for a CRTC license for radio and plans to have the radio station at 98.7 FM operating in time for the Nov. 19 civic election.

“You will be able to hear the outcome of the civic election,” McBride predicted after council approved the antenna, which will be about 10 feet taller than city bylaws usually allow for a communications antenna.

Some councillors expressed concern about the safety and visual aesthetics of the 14.7-foot structure after some residents wrote in complaining about it.

McBride said the antenna will use lower frequency radio waves than those emitted by cellphones and pointed out the antenna was approved by the tower’s strata council. And he said every effort will be made to disguise the antenna, including using special paint, and most people will never see the tower because it’s on top of a 24-storey building.

Still, McBride has several hurdles to clear before he can get the radio station running. Engineers need to find time to install the antenna, Industry Canada has to test the signal and work still needs to be done at a studio on Moray Street.

However, McBride, who owns three other radio stations in Tofino, Ucluelet and Pemberton, said he’s been running the station off air for months to work out all the bugs. When broadcasting begins, he expects people in Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and part of Pitt Meadows to hear the signal.

Mayor Joe Trasolini absented himself from the vote because he owns the building where the station is located.

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